Lawmakers Propose Lyrics Change for State Song


ANNAPOLIS (Feb. 13, 2009)—"Maryland, My Maryland," the state song which "spurns the Northern scum," stings the legislators, too, even if some don't know the words.

"Actually, I really have never paid a lot of attention to the words," said Delegate Pamela Beidle, D-Anne Arundel, who introduced a bill (2009 SB 892) Friday in the House to change the lyrics of the state song to pay tribute to Maryland rather than express "Confederate sympathies."

She said letters of protest from fourth grade students at Glen Burnie Park Elementary School opened her eyes to the song's bias.

The lyrics are from a poem written by James Ryder Randall in Louisiana in 1861 called "Maryland, My Maryland," and convey anger at Union troops marching in Baltimore.

Beidle hopes to change the lyrics to a poem of the same name written 33 years later by John T. White, a Frederick County native and former superintendent of Maryland Schools.

White's poem talks of "wooded hills" and "brave souls," as opposed to Randall's "despot's heel" and "Huzza!"

But the latest attempt to change the state song is not as drastic as it seems. Beidle wants the tune—"O Tannenbaum" by Lauriger Horatius—to remain the same.

People who never knew the words would still be able to hum along to a song they know better as "O Christmas Tree."

"I'm ashamed to say I can't remember the lyrics to it very well," said Anne Garside, director of communications for the Maryland Historical Society.

Garside said that despite having little knowledge of what the song says she would be open to "changing any language (of an official anthem) that doesn't reflect our current inclusive attitudes."

Delegate Mary Ann Love, D-Anne Arundel, agrees the lyrics aren't "attuned" to the attitudes of the day, even though she too, isn't quite sure what the lyrics say.

"I'm standing here reading the lyrics right now," she said. "It is a historic song, but looking at (the lyrics), they are pretty harsh."

But not as harsh as pushing history aside for political correctness, said the president general of the Daughters of the Confederacy.

"I hate it when parts of our history are pushed aside for political correctness," said Jane Durden. "Sometimes change is not good."

Change is what we need, said Delegate Jolene Ivey, D-Prince George's, another sponsor of the bill.

"As a state, we've moved on from glorifying the Confederacy, don't you think?"

If the words to the song aren't changed, Ivey said, "People will never sing it."


2009 Senate Bill 892

Maryland, My Maryland Lyrics

The despot's heel is on thy shore, Maryland!
His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland!
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Hark to an exiled son's appeal, Maryland!
My Mother State! to thee I kneel, Maryland!
For life or death, for woe or weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird they beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not cower in the dust, Maryland!
Thy beaming sword shall never rust, Maryland!
Remember Carroll's sacred trust,
Remember Howard's warlike thrust,-
And all thy slumberers with the just,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! 'tis the red dawn of the day, Maryland!
Come with thy panoplied array, Maryland!
With Ringgold's spirit for the fray,
With Watson's blood at Monterey,
With fearless Lowe and dashing May,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! for thy shield is bright and strong, Maryland!
Come! for thy dalliance does thee wrong, Maryland!
Come to thine own anointed throng,
Stalking with Liberty along,
And sing thy dauntless slogan song,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Dear Mother! burst the tyrant's chain, Maryland!
Virginia should not call in vain, Maryland!
She meets her sisters on the plain-
Sic semper! 'tis the proud refrain
That baffles minions back amain, Maryland!
Arise in majesty again,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I see the blush upon thy cheek, Maryland!
For thou wast ever bravely meek, Maryland!
But lo! there surges forth a shriek,
From hill to hill, from creek to creek,
Potomac calls to Chesapeake,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll, Maryland!
Thou wilt not crook to his control, Maryland!
Better the fire upon thee roll, Better the shot, the blade, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the Soul,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I hear the distant thunder-hum, Maryland!
The Old Line bugle, fife, and drum, Maryland!
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! She burns! She'll come! She'll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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